A contact call vs. a distress call if you were too close for example. Bill size is another. These Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers appear nearly identical, but the Hairy Woodpecker is larger than the Downy, with a distinctly longer bill. Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers have nearly identical vocalizations for most calls. But even if you can’t observe these spunky birds, you can identify them by listening carefully. Physically, the Downy’s black and white feather pattern resembles the slightly larger Hairy Woodpecker. Posted on October 29, 2020. Compare the picture of the Hairy Woodpecker with the Downy. Both look natty in their checkered plumage, but how to tell them apart? The hairy woodpecker is about 1/3 longer than the downy and weighs almost 3 times as much! Downy Woodpeckers have shorter bills in relation to their body size where a Hairy Woodpecker… The black mark that extends from the shoulder onto the breast is less distinctive in the Downy Woodpecker. Beak Size: The most pronounced field mark is beak size. Two woodpeckers who look very much alike are busy inspecting tree bark around North America looking for food. A few years ago I was alerted to a subtle difference in the head patterns of Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers when I read a short note by Mark Szantyr with a nod to Julian Hough in the journal The Connecticut Warbler.He pointed out that Downy Woodpecker has a … Similar looking birds to Hairy Woodpecker: Downy Woodpecker Male (Eastern), Ladder-backed Woodpecker Male, Nuttall's Woodpecker Male, American Three-toed Woodpecker Adult male, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Male. The hairy… So look at the bill. Hairy Woodpeckers are several inches larger than Downys. The distinct tuft of a nasal bristle is noticeable at the base of the bill. Downy Woodpecker The downy woodpecker’s white outer tail feathers are usually barred in black, giving it a spotted effect. Seen next to each other (as in the picture) their size difference makes identification easy, if you know which one is larger. In instances where size comparisons might not be available, experts suggest examining the bill size in relation to the head size. The downy's bill is tiny in proportion to the head. The easiest way to tell the difference between the Downy Woodpecker and Hairy Woodpecker is their size. Hairy Woodpecker The larger bird on the right is the hairy woodpecker; the smaller (left) is a downy. The hairy woodpecker has a long and strong chisel-like beak that is almost the same size as its head. Downy Woodpeckers typically have small bills. So if you heard a significant difference what you probably heard were different types of calls. Downy Woodpecker by Andrew Yee Both of these incredible woodpecker species live in High Park and as such, we would like to encourage you to practice telling them both apart on your next visit. The colors and patterning of hairy and downy woodpeckers are nearly identical, making these two bird species easy to confuse. Another features of note is if you look at the tail feathers on the downy in the bottom picture. Hairy Woodpeckers prefer towering trees and deeper woods, while the Downy Woodpecker can settle for younger trees and herbaceous plants. The bill of the downy woodpecker is a short and small needle-like beak and dainty in comparison, about 1/3 the length of the bird’s head. Yet when you see one alone, without the other for comparison, it can be tricky to identify it on size alone. A Hairy Woodpecker could always use its larger size to chase a Downy Woodpecker away from a prime feeding spot or potential nest cavity, but would have no such guarantee should it choose to battle another Hairy Woodpecker. Make the ID: Downy vs Hairy Woodpecker. And it doesn't have the black spots on its outer tail feathers like the Downy. 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